My kids aren’t what I expected them to be – and that’s ok…

I wanted to be her.

I always imagined myself cheering on my kids from the stands; sitting with other moms of kids with like interests. I thought I would be waking up at the crack of dawn to take my kid to a practice of some sort and picking up a warm and cozy coffee along the way. I pictured myself taking them on road trips with their team, staying in mediocre hotels and watching them swim with their friends and teammates in the over-chlorinated hotel pool. These are things I have never done.

My kids aren’t into sports. We’ve tried to get them involved in almost every kind of sport: swimming, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, gymnastics, basketball, ball hockey and baseball. None of these sports really stuck. Sure we’ve done house league teams where the kids barely get to know each other, nor do the parents. They play maybe 10 games in their short season coached by one of the parents who regretfully volunteered in fear that the league would fold if there weren’t enough coaches, get a cheap medal and a cheaper uniform and call it a day. Then they don’t want to sign up for it again. Ever.

There are days when I am disappointed – not in my kids, but in the way that this is not how I envisioned my life as a mom. I feel different than my other mom friends who talk on Monday about the big tournament on the weekend or the big game later that week or the bad ref and the awful parents on the other team who yelled at the bad ref instead of just talking about him behind his back like their team does.

And then they ask how my weekend was and I tell them that my son and his buddy discover diamonds in Minecraft (I don’t even know what this means) and my daughter played dance studio (even though she doesn’t actually take dance because she doesn’t want to be told how to dance) with a friend in the basement. And I think I have failed as a parent. Where did I go wrong? Why aren’t my kids like the other kids who like team sports and camaraderie and competition.

I bring this up to my in-laws: two Brits who immigrated to Canada in 1976 and didn’t know much about the Canadian team sports culture and thus, my husband never really grew up with team sports like I did in the GTA. They reminded me that our kids are unique and creative and kind-hearted. They don’t have a competitive bone in their body and that’s ok. They’re children, let them play. They have their whole lives to be competitive.

They are right. My kids aren’t what I envisioned them to be, but they are mine and they are a piece of me and my husband – perhaps the pieces of us that I didn’t expect. They are creative and funny and loving. They have talents that are not tangible. My daughter is the most compassionate person I have ever met. My mother calls her an “old soul”. She has an ability to feel other’s pain and joy in a way that is very mature and beyond her years. My son is funny. He has the best laugh ever – straight from the belly. He also has the most beautiful singing voice and he has an ability to drum a beat or hum a tune of a song he has only heard once. And they both are good; simply good kids. I have never had to use the “1-2-3 magic” parenting technique with them and I can count on one hand the times they have had to go to a time out. And when they have, they come out apologizing to each other before I even ask them to. I have seen them playing at the park with other kids and watched another kid fall and my son or daughter stop to see if they are ok while other kids just keep running.

They may not be star athletes, and I may need to get over my dream of sitting in cold hockey arenas with other hockey moms (why did I really ever want this?) and that’s ok. My kids are playing creative and imaginative games and learning life long skills like empathy, cooperation, adaptability, problem solving and time management. And they are going to be ok. And so am I.

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4 thoughts on “My kids aren’t what I expected them to be – and that’s ok…

  1. great post tina – thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights in such a transparent and meaningful way! i think that all of us learn more about ourselves and what we need to become as we grow into this parenting role. 🙂

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  2. Well written my love. I am likely to blame for the lack of interest in traditional “Canadian” competitive sports. I’m the only guy in the office who has absolutely no idea what the other fellas are talking about on Monday mornings when it comes to Hockey or Football. Now, ask me about scuba diving, motocross, rally racing, kite boarding or water skiing, and you won’t be able to stop me talking. Lily has taken a keen interest in scuba diving – she dove the Yucatan at the age of 10. Ben likes to tear up the woods with his motorbike. Fear not – our kids may not be into archetypical group activities for their age, but they have a keen interest in the world and are genuinely happy overall. xxx

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  3. As a proud grandmother to my (only) two fabulous grandchildren, I can only respond with “Well said” and “so true”
    These children from birth have been given every opportunity to join and participate in all kinds of activities….they are their own souls. They have had more travel experiences than most adults and plan their activities around the ocean, fishing, swimming, sea mammals and the love of foreign foods and various cultures.
    Activities are not necessarily meant to be competitive, aggressive or shared. Their activities reflect what they love best, and mostly done with parental ( and grandparental) support.
    Tina and Nick are best described as “the best of parents”. I may be a bit bias, but love and sharing your concerns and feelings is the basis for healthy kids, which ultimately become, healthy adults, who may or may not have kids that are not interested in competitive sports!!

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    1. Dearest Tina,

      what a loving perceptive blog you have written. I’m afraid to admit what you say about us immigrants is true, at least for this family.

      I firmly believe a delayed strategy is best. Kids should just be kids, lots of choices, no pressure, until they focus on something that they choose, feel comfortable with, whether in sports or other activities. So much is lost to the intensive regimes we subject our little soldiers to in the early developmental years. But that’s just my opinion and I can hear the coach now. “You’ve got to start them off at five if you want them to qualify for the team”.

      You are right about the qualities we see in our grandchildren, compassion, sensibility, natural leadership built on empathy.

      Love,

      Grandad.

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